Acts 19:3-7 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
I was with Dr Haag yesterday at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and a couple of questions came up concerning John’s baptism. They were, what was John’s baptism and why did Christ need to get baptized by John? Interesting questions. Dr Haag, I thought, gave an excellent explanation on John’s Baptism and then went on to teach about baptisms in general. I’ll briefly give you a quick overview of what he taught and add some of my thoughts as well.
The simple answer to these questions, Dr Haag explained, is that Christ came to be baptized by John to manifest Himself to the Jews as the Messiah, to identify with sinful mankind, and finally, signal the beginning of His ministry. It was NOT to receive the Holy Spirit (He was conceived by the Holy Ghost), to wash away His sins (He was sinless), nor to start the “church” (His ministry on earth was primarily to the Jews and to set up His kingdom).
Dr. Haag noted that all together there are 7 baptisms mentioned in the New Testament. Seven! Some concern water and others have no water associated with them at all. For example, John’s baptism and Believer’s baptism are “wet.” Then, Moses’, Noah’s, and Holy Spirit baptism are “dry.” Finally, the Fire baptism of Matthew 3 is “fire” (yes, fire, not the Holy Ghost, context is everything when you are studying the Bible). He explained it is vitally important to know about the different baptisms because there are false teachings, even heresies, associated with each one of these baptisms.
Some quick examples, do you need to be baptized in water to be saved? No. Noah didn’t. He got saved by staying OUT of the water! Yet verses in 2 Peter 2 are used to prove you need to get “baptized to be saved.” Do I need to get baptized to receive the Holy Ghost? No. Peter and the Apostles didn’t. They were just “in one accord…..sitting” when they got the Holy Ghost. Yet Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized…” is used to prove you need to be baptized to receive the Holy Ghost. (See Acts 10: the Gentiles received the Holy Ghost before baptism.)
One last example, was John the first Baptist? No, of course not. I’ll define Baptist here as those who believe you first receive Christ as savior (and are born again through the Spirit) and then get baptized by immersion in water. This water baptism is commonly called “Believer’s baptism.” The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 was practicing Believer’s baptism. (I hate to bring this up here, but if you are using a corrupt version of the scriptures, you’ll see that Acts 8:37 is either removed or put in the margin. Apparently somebody doesn’t like how the story originally was told. But that is for another blog.)
In short, John’s baptism was NOT Believer’s baptism. John’s ministry ended before Calvary. His ministry ended before the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He may have had the Holy Ghost and he may have been an outstanding prophet, but he was NOT a Christian. Note our text in Acts 19. If John was a “Baptist”, how is it Paul doesn’t think John’s baptism was any good for the Jews that he met who had been baptized under John’s ministry? Answer: because it wasn’t. Much had changed from the time of John’s baptism to the time of Acts 19. That change was as big as Old Testament versus New Testament. John and Christ both lived under the Law of Moses (with it’s ordinances, statutes, and sacrifices). A Christian lives under the Law of Christ. (See Hebrews 9-10).
So there you have it. Not a complete study, but perhaps a good enough overview to keep you out of harm’s way. At the very least, it should make you a bit more cautious about who and what to believe in the future. God bless you and yours.
Dr. Carl W.Deems, Th.D.
Burning Bright Ministries